Gov. Ventura to Broadcast XFL Games

From the wrestling ring to the governor’s mansion to the football broadcast booth.

Jesse Ventura’s career path knows no bounds.

Ventura, a former pro wrestler and the governor of Minnesota, will be an announcer for NBC Sports’ telecasts of the new XFL football league, the league and the network said today.

The XFL is a joint venture between NBC and the World Wrestling Federation.

“We’re thrilled to have one of the most interesting and colorful leaders in America today joining us as an integral part of the XFL,” NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said.

Minnesota politicians weren’t all as thrilled.

“He’s clearly using the prestige and the name of his office to enrich himself financially,” state Sen. John Marty said. “And even if that’s not illegal, I find it very troubling.

“Where’s his loyalty? The loyalty ought to be to the public — the taxpayer — not people willing to enrich him based on how outrageous he can be.”

The Personality of the Game

Vince McMahon, the WWF’s chairman, said Ventura is “naturally opinionated, charismatic and genuine — just like the XFL will be. From day one, we’ve promised that the XFL will allow the true personality of the game to shine and we believe that Jesse is the best person to make that happen.”

It’s the second time Ventura, who was once known as “The Body” and now uses the nickname “The Mind,” has teamed with McMahon. Last year, he served as referee for the WWF’s SummerSlam event at Target Center in Minneapolis, and was harshly criticized by many Minnesotans for participating in an event that featured scantily clad women, swearing and violence.

He acknowledged a $100,000 fee for the event, but wrestling experts estimated he would earn at least another $1 million for the use of his name and from videos and royalties connected to the event.

Ventura was elected to a four-year term as governor in 1998.

“The governor has got to understand that he was elected to do a 24-hour-a-day job,” state Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe said. “That’s what being governor of the state is. You don’t know when the tornadoes are going to sweep through. They don’t stay away from Saturday nights.”

Offbeat Hiring in Football

NBC agreed this spring to pay about $80 million for a 50 percent stake in the XFL and 3 percent of the WWF. NBC will broadcast football games in primetime on Saturday nights, starting Feb. 3.

Ventura’s hiring continues the trend of offbeat choices for football commentary or analysis. ABC Sports’ Monday Night Football, of course, has Dennis Miller, while comedians Jimmy Kimmel and Jay Mohr work for Fox.

Ventura has spent time as an announcer for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and is also a part-time volunteer assistant football coach at Champlin Park High School.

In May, Ventura told CNN he would consider accepting the job as an analyst on Monday Night Football, although Ventura noted that he’s been criticized for several for-profit ventures since taking office.

“The Legislature’s in session only a little bit,” Ventura said at the time. “But I’m sure I’d take plenty of flack for it because there’s people that believe once you’ve been elected, you’re not allowed to make money on your own.”